Ram Puniyani


Shifting of Nano from Singur, West Bengal to  Gujarat has been projected as a feather in Narendra Modi’s cap. Modi, the organizer of the Gujarat anti-Muslim pogrom of 2002 is being portrayed as the future of India notwithstanding the dismal economic performance of his government.


Shifting of Nano to Gujarat has been projected as a feather in Modi’s cap. With this his already rising popular rating due to the projections by a section of media and blind apologists of current pattern of development has got a big boost. Some from the world of business/vested interests have started saying that Modi is the future of India and if there are five more Modi’s the country will prosper in the real fast way! The additional point being made is that he has shown the path to deal with ‘terror’; he can control this problem in effective way etc.!


The alternative patterns of development, what are the different components of the process apart, lets see his record and the ‘achievements’ in Gujarat. He is the one who gave the final push to convert Gujarat from being a part of democratic India to ‘Hindu Nation in one state’. His projection of Godhra as the preplanned act by Muslim community and unleashing the carnage against this hapless minority has few parallels in the history of India. He presided over a tirade to convert the minorities into second class citizens in his state. Not only did he refuse to let the refugee camps continue, today over five lakh Muslim minority are staying in the proliferating ghettoes of Gujarat, denied the facilities by state and the civic authorities. Most of the indices of Gujarat development relate to increasing affluence of the sections of middle classes while the condition of average and poorer sections are declining badly.


Poverty levels are rising; employment and agriculture are having a bad time. The agricultural production has been declining, e.g. from 6.571 million tones in 2003-2004 to 5.153 in 2004-2005. A survey conducted by NSS in 2005 shows that approximately 40% farmers of state said that given the option they would like to shift from away agriculture. Recent studies show that agriculture and labor both have suffered extensively during last one decade. Modi in a reply given in state assembly stated that in one year up to Jan 2007, 148 farmers had committed suicide and the condition is worsening on that score. While on one side the state exports electricity, its villages are having a power deficit. Indian Express 8th April 2007 reported that state is reeling under the shortfall of 900 mega Watt of power, the victims of this are mainly in the villages. One of the indices of poverty, prevalence of anemia is very revealing on this count. The percentage of women suffering from anemia has risen from 46.3% in 1999 to 55.5% in 2004 (Third round of National Family Health survey report 2006) among women. Amongst children it rose from 74.5% to 80.1%. Some of the reports point out the conditions of dalits and women has deteriorated during last decade. For women one of the indices is the declining sex ratio in Gujarat during last decade. The plight of Adivasis is no better.


Gujarat also witnessed the anti Christian violence during Modi regime and Adivasis have been a totally neglected lot in the state, reeling under the Vanvasi Kalyan Ashrams Gharvapasi (Conversion into Hinduism) campaigns. Minorities have been reduced to scapegoats and the social partitions are becoming rigid by the day. Some development has taken place in the state, but Gujarat was always amongst the more developed states of the country. It is not that things have started from the scratch.    


As far as terrorism is concerned, the acts of terror did take place in the form of attack on Akshardham during his regime. After this Akshardham attack he romped home to electoral victory. A bit later with his bloated chest he started claiming that terrorists dare not enter his state, till of course the bomb blasts in Ahmedabad (2008). After this he propagated that he cannot deal with this phenomenon as he does not have effective laws! This deliberate lie is meant to while wash the fact that terrorism has deeper roots, which cannot be uprooted by brave rhetoric’s which he is adept to dishing out. He has mastered the art of using the opportunity to project him, well assisted by the section of media.


The pattern of things in Gujarat today is clear, it intimidates and brow beat minorities, take up policies which help the affluent and upper middle class, project this and hide the backyard where the poor and minorities stay. No wonder this is what attracts the ilk of Tata, who are very appreciative of Modi, as the backyard of the state, the violation of democratic norms has no meaning for them, the only thing which matters for them is the proliferating coffers of their companies. The considerations of ethical and holistic development don’t matter there. This is no different from the attitude of big industrialists towards Hitler. They backed him to the hilt in his rampage against the democratic norms. It is not for nothing that serious academics like Ashish Nandy describe Modi as the person with classic fascist traits.


The carnage of 2002 and the parallel intimidation of Christian minorities have already paved the way for the religious authoritarianism in the state. Modi is basking in the glory of ‘personally efficient and disciplined’ person. A person should not be judged by a small part of the policies. What is overlooked in this shortsighted evaluation is that whether the said person is committed to democratic values, values of Indian Constitution or not. While the management Gurus and money bags are comfortable with the likes of Hitler/Modi, for the large sections of deprived population such rules are a nightmare. What more can be said about such a person who comes to power through polarizing the society and then rules in a manner where false claims about amity abound. The aura created around him is a sign of ominous dark times for the nation, the times threatening to engulf the values of our plural culture and values of our freedom movement, which emphasized on democracy and equal rights for all. 

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